GETTING STARTED: THE WAY I SEE IT

Robin Brownlee
January 13 2013 05:45PM

If it walks like a duck and talks like a duck, it probably it is a duck, so those convinced that the Edmonton Oilers played their outdoor game of shinny at Hawrelak Park today as a PR stunt intended to placate fans who had to wait out a 113-day lockout probably have it right.

Planned and staged it was -- as if the Oilers were responding to an edict straight from NHL offices that every one of the league's 30 teams should do what it can to make amends and welcome fans, and their wallets, back into the fold. We've seen much the same plan in play in recent days as teams prepared to open camp: free this here, free that there. In Edmonton, site of the Heritage Classic, the win-them-back edict meant shinny outdoors.

That said, even as calculated as it is, giving frozen-toed fans a glimpse of their favourite players up close and personal the day before camp opens is a token of good faith, a decent gesture and one that will no doubt at least be the start of smoothing things over – it's not like fans in this city need their arms twisted to show up at Rexall Place, even for a 48-game season.

But, if today's game was a one-off in terms of reconnecting with fans – opening the first three days of camp and providing free popcorn doesn't count as a meaningful follow-up – and there's nothing more to come, then the Oilers aren't doing everything they should.

If the Oilers are serious about mending fences, I'd like to think they're planning a series of events this season that will allow fans to connect with the team – events that don't involve turnstiles and selling tickets or merchandise to pad the bottom line. Events like, but not necessarily the same, as today.

And about ticket prices . . .

THIS AND THAT

. . . So, we'll start camp at Rexall Place with Ryan Nugent-Hopkins playing between Taylor Hall and Jordan Eberle, Sam Gagner at the pivot between Nail Yakupov and Ales Hemsky with the third line being Shawn Horcoff in the middle with Ryan Smyth and Teemu Hartikainen. I'd like to think coach Ralph Krueger will start the season that way, too. Makes sense to me.

. . . There's nobody on the roster as polarizing as Gagner, so I'll be interested in hearing takes from fans on what he might do this season. The way I see it, we're likely going to see the top-end of Gagner's game, his ceiling or close to it, this season, his sixth with the Oilers. How that translates into points, I don’t know, but I'll bet a buck he betters his career average of .60 PPG.

. . . Jason Gregor already touched on it and I'm in full agreement that the Oilers aren't going to be able to mount any kind of legitimate playoff push unless they get a big year from Ales Hemsky. Hall, RNH and Eberle get most of the headlines, and that's understandable, but how effective Krueger's top-six forwards will be as a group hinges on Hemsky (and his health).

. . . I'm as eager to see Justin Schultz as anybody – not at camp Monday but when the season begins in Vancouver against the Canucks against actual NHL players. Schultz, obviously, had his way in the AHL, but it's not going to go that way when the puck drops here. I like Krueger's decision to start him alongside Nick Schultz. Safe call. As for points? Fans should be doing handstands if Schultz gets 20.

AND . . .

. . . Momentum is an over-used cliché in all sports that doesn't really apply most in its true definition, but I'll be interested to see if there's any carryover from the Spengler Cup with Devan Dubnyk to start the season. I do believe confidence is a more important aspect than the M-word and Dubnyk has plenty of it right now.

. . . That nine-game road swing (while The Brier takes over Rexall Place) is a killer, especially when you consider the Oilers are playing basically every second day with 48 games in less than 100 days, but I think it's the final 10 games that'll tell the story. The Oilers play seven of their final 10 games at home. I think the Oilers will be in playoff contention going into that stretch and I'm guessing, given recent seasons, fans can live with that.

Listen to Robin Brownlee Wednesdays and Thursdays from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. on the Jason Gregor Show on TEAM 1260.

Aceb4a1816f5fa09879a023b07d1a9b4
A sports writer since 1983, including stints at The Edmonton Journal and The Sun 1989-2007, I happily co-host the Jason Gregor Show on TSN 1260 twice a week and write when so inclined. Have the best damn lawn on the internet. Most important, I am Sam's dad. Follow me on Twitter at Robin_Brownlee. Or don't.
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#1 Dennis
January 13 2013, 05:58PM
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Yeah about those ticket prices....barely any change in the new packs. It's kind of insulting really, to save only like $35.

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#2 Dino
January 13 2013, 06:00PM
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Robin, I agree that the Oilers need to do more than just stage an outdoor shinny game and sign some autographs. I'd like to see somehing more meaningful that actually benefits the people buying tickets to the games. Not only to server as a goodwill gesture for the lock out, but how about for supporting a team that's been a basement dweller for the last few years?

Any idea/speculation regarding the "WOW" trade that Stauffer's been mentioning from time to time?

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#3 Robin Brownlee
January 13 2013, 06:04PM
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Dino wrote:

Robin, I agree that the Oilers need to do more than just stage an outdoor shinny game and sign some autographs. I'd like to see somehing more meaningful that actually benefits the people buying tickets to the games. Not only to server as a goodwill gesture for the lock out, but how about for supporting a team that's been a basement dweller for the last few years?

Any idea/speculation regarding the "WOW" trade that Stauffer's been mentioning from time to time?

The trade Stauffer was talking about was contingent on a CBA by December and on language in the deal that would generate more player movement.

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#4 Toro
January 13 2013, 06:16PM
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Ya yippee kayay, stand outside and watch them play shinny. Thanks Oilers, how's those ticket prices looking ?

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#5 bumboclate
January 13 2013, 06:34PM
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the oil will have to do more than this to make me happy. if I want the paper back tickets I have to pay more as a season ticket holder. That just gets me mad! What if I wanna give out games that I cant attend I have pay more for the paper back ticket....... sigh

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#6 Mikey
January 13 2013, 06:37PM
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Wish I would have known about this. Would have been fun to take the kids there.

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#7 Romulus' Apotheosis
January 13 2013, 06:40PM
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"but how effective Krueger's top-six forwards will be as a group hinges on Hemsky (and his health)."

Seems a bit of an overstatement to me. I completely agree that Hemsky is a big part of the team and has to play like it... but I would hesitate to make the performance of 5 other guys hinge on his play/health.

About the lines... I wonder if the RNH-Hall-Ebs line will last... they got broken up in OKC and I really like putting Gagner-Hall-Hemsky together...

also K's idea of pairings (RNH-Ebs; Gags-Hem) seems to imply Hall will get super-nova wildcard status and roam around a bit.

Agreed about momentum... it's (more often than not) a hack's crutch in the same way stock hackish phrases like "they wanted it more" are... confidence... though not quantifiable... seems a much better point of departure.

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#8 6 ring circus
January 13 2013, 07:07PM
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The Oiler's sent me a email today and told me my lock out credit to my account was $4.45!!! They will have to make a way bigger effort then a staged outdoor scrimmage, to make up for the gong show and cirrus that the fans have had to watch these past 4 months.

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#9 book¡e
January 13 2013, 07:12PM
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Sorry, why did anyone expect ticket prices to be lower post lockout?

THe point of cutting expenses was to make the teams more profitable, cutting revenue doesn't get you there.

Unless there has been a drop in demand to the point that you are not selling out, I can't fathom why the Oilers would lower ticket prices.

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#10 Robin Brownlee
January 13 2013, 07:16PM
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@Romulus' Apotheosis

Not an overstatement at all.

If Hemsky can't stay healthy and productive and help provide Krueger with a second line that can be a threat then opposing teams can throw everything they've got at the kids on the first line in terms of match-ups.

Hemsky is the key to the second line -- Yakupov can't be expected to carry it -- and, it follows, match-ups they manage to draw away from the first line. It's significant.

Most teams have one defensive pairing they want against the best opposing forwards. Not many teams have two pairings capable of shut-down roles. If you've got two lines that can score, you've got an edge.

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#11 Lets shoot for more
January 13 2013, 07:24PM
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Nice prediction on 20 points as being great effort for Schultz brownlee. A 30 point season over a full season for a 22 year old quarterback power play guy is not a huge effort. Lets start to expect more, no handstands.

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#12 Robin Brownlee
January 13 2013, 07:33PM
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Lets shoot for more wrote:

Nice prediction on 20 points as being great effort for Schultz brownlee. A 30 point season over a full season for a 22 year old quarterback power play guy is not a huge effort. Lets start to expect more, no handstands.

If Schultz gets 20 pts in 48 games that translates to 34 pts over 82 games.

You might want to look up how many NHL defensemen produce pts at that rate as rookies (hint: Jake Gardiner led rookie defenseman last season with 30 points).

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#13 Romulus' Apotheosis
January 13 2013, 07:33PM
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Robin Brownlee wrote:

Not an overstatement at all.

If Hemsky can't stay healthy and productive and help provide Krueger with a second line that can be a threat then opposing teams can throw everything they've got at the kids on the first line in terms of match-ups.

Hemsky is the key to the second line -- Yakupov can't be expected to carry it -- and, it follows, match-ups they manage to draw away from the first line. It's significant.

Most teams have one defensive pairing they want against the best opposing forwards. Not many teams have two pairings capable of shut-down roles. If you've got two lines that can score, you've got an edge.

I don't disagree with any of this. perfectly reasonable.

But I still don't think it adds up to Hemsky being the hinge of the top 6.

If any of RNH, Hall or Ebs struggle with health and/or production then the top 6 is out a serious piece of the puzzle.

I completely agree that Hemsky is a key piece of the top 6 puzzle and that he will play a big role on the second line... but I'm not ready to place the success/failure of the top 6 on his shoulders (pun intended).

Moreover, I'd argue the "pairing" idea mitigates the stress placed on individuals and traditional line assignments. The idea of floating players gives more flexibility in line construction and managing the coaching of the opposition.

So, putting Hall, for example, on the second line with Gag-Hall-Hem evens the scoring out even more to the point where oppositions will be forced to play to two strong offensive lines...

at any rate, I have high expectations for Hemsky this year and he has a lot of responsibility to live up to ... no doubt ...

I'd still quibble with making him the hinge of our scoring lines.

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#14 Eric K
January 13 2013, 07:37PM
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No sandpaper in the top 2 lines.

They need a player like Ryan Oreilly.

No #1 goalie yet

Not strong enough on D

Just a team that will have great games and bad ones.

Not a contender.

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#15 Lets shoot for more
January 13 2013, 07:41PM
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Robin Brownlee wrote:

If Schultz gets 20 pts in 48 games that translates to 34 pts over 82 games.

You might want to look up how many NHL defensemen produce pts at that rate as rookies (hint: Jake Gardiner led rookie defenseman last season with 30 points).

I think we all can agree this is a special situation. A rookie defenceman that is already 22 years old and was second in AHL scoring is not a complete rookie. All I am saying is that he is terrific and I think you are laying a very low foundation. If you haven't noticed players are doing great things at a young age these days (Toews won a gold medal and Stanley cup at 21 as best forward and Blackawks captain), this team could and should be good.

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#16 Jeff
January 13 2013, 07:54PM
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Oilers are building an all star team, and what you saw in the world Jr. is an example. USA built a team Canada an all star team.

Until they change their philosophy this team will disappoint .

This team is too small I can't imagine this team in the playoffs, they would be pushed around. The top 2 lines would be frustrated, complaining about the refs.

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#17 Dog Train
January 13 2013, 08:12PM
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Today was a nice gesture I suppose but I agree that more needs to be done. The biggest thing that any fan can get behind is a reduction in ticket prices.

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#18 Rocket
January 13 2013, 08:13PM
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@Jeff

Agreed about size. The Oilers may have a little grit, (Hall in the AHL was a beast), but it seems teams that are talented & big win in the playoffs in recent years.

It would be nice if only the most talented teams won & The Oilers definitely have that in spades but I worry about this team's ability to win when it counts in the playoffs.

I just hope they prove me wrong.

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#19 Rocket
January 13 2013, 08:17PM
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Also, playing shinny in a park on a sunday afternoon is barely a goodwill gesture to fans.

A terrible team recently, playing in an old barn coming off another lockout.

Thanks for the "free" hockey Oilers, now try & win some games that actually count.

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#20 Dave #2
January 13 2013, 08:19PM
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Eric K wrote:

No sandpaper in the top 2 lines.

They need a player like Ryan Oreilly.

No #1 goalie yet

Not strong enough on D

Just a team that will have great games and bad ones.

Not a contender.

I agree totally .. The glory teams of old had a lot of sandpaper. None on our first two lines is a problem. I would definitely try to trade Gagner & prospect (s) for a player with some size and grit ... GRIT!

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#21 Sanaa Montana
January 13 2013, 08:36PM
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Teemu-Ryan-Jordan

Taylor-Sam-Ales

Ben-Shawn-Nail

Ryan-Eric-Lennart

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#22 Toro
January 13 2013, 08:47PM
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Is there a chance Oilers take a chance and sign Tim Thomas in the summer? 2 time Vezina trophy winner, might be a good fit if the price is right, probably be better for him to play in Canada??

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#23 Ryan2
January 13 2013, 09:05PM
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Seeing as it is minor hockey week, it would be a nice touch if the Oilers had some of the players visiting rinks this week as a way to show support for the fans.

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#24 Taylor Gang
January 13 2013, 09:19PM
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Toro wrote:

Is there a chance Oilers take a chance and sign Tim Thomas in the summer? 2 time Vezina trophy winner, might be a good fit if the price is right, probably be better for him to play in Canada??

Does the name Nikolai Khabibulin ring a bell?

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#25 Toro
January 13 2013, 09:36PM
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Taylor Gang wrote:

Does the name Nikolai Khabibulin ring a bell?

No no , I'm talking about Tim Thomas , Not Nikolai Khabibulin

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#26 Romulus' Apotheosis
January 13 2013, 09:36PM
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Toro wrote:

Is there a chance Oilers take a chance and sign Tim Thomas in the summer? 2 time Vezina trophy winner, might be a good fit if the price is right, probably be better for him to play in Canada??

I can only hope our days of overpaying aging Gs for overlong are over at the close of this year.

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#27 book¡e
January 13 2013, 10:05PM
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To hell with 'gestures' to the fans. Just play hockey as best you can and every once in a while reflect for a few minutes how lucky you are that the sport you are good at happens to be something you can earn millions doing. You could have been ended up being a world class water poloist and be working at Home Depot to support your athletic ambitions.

Anything else just ends up being contrived and silly.

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#28 jake
January 13 2013, 10:31PM
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How about allowing an eastern canadian Oiler fan to turn on SN West (which I pay for on my cable bill) for an Oilers game and NOT see a black screen? Drop the annoying restrictions for "out of market" fans.

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#29 Rocket
January 13 2013, 10:40PM
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jake wrote:

How about allowing an eastern canadian Oiler fan to turn on SN West (which I pay for on my cable bill) for an Oilers game and NOT see a black screen? Drop the annoying restrictions for "out of market" fans.

This, this & more this.

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#30 Jeff
January 13 2013, 10:42PM
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Players like OEL, Hedman, Pietrangelo, or Doughty are untouchable now.

Adam Larsson may turn into 1 of those players however he is not close yet, this is the type of player Oilers should take a shot with , NJ needs wingers and Oilers have some young potential superstars.

If Oilers just want to get better the trade does not make a lot of sense, but if they are thinking about competing for the Stanley Cup in the next couple of years this makes sense to me.

They could also trade for a chance at Seth Jones. But that seems unlikely.

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#31 Walter Sobchak
January 13 2013, 11:10PM
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6 ring circus wrote:

The Oiler's sent me a email today and told me my lock out credit to my account was $4.45!!! They will have to make a way bigger effort then a staged outdoor scrimmage, to make up for the gong show and cirrus that the fans have had to watch these past 4 months.

Well, how do you know the Oilers board of governors was not opposed to the lockout in the first place? Maybe the Oilers were one of the moderate teams.

How is the Oilers brass responsible for the gong show and circus that was created by the NHL and NHLPA?

Lastly, what the hell did you expect? Free tickets, a marching band, full free tour to the entire players houses plus framed autographed jerseys?

You don’t like the lockout I get that, but blaming the Oilers for the entire circus is just insane.

You don’t like how you been treated then get rid of your tickets!

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#32 Jon
January 13 2013, 11:13PM
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I'm fully expecting Justin Schultz to do very well this year. I'm not expecting him to be a world beater, but I'm expecting him to put up one of the better rookie defenceman years.

Everyone in the hockey world says Schultz is better offensively than his former teammate Gardiner, and he put up 30 pts in 75 games at a younger age and with less professional experience. So I think it's pretty realistic to think Schultz would hit 40-50 over a full season.

That's not an unheard of pace either, here's a list of the best rookies in the past 5 years for D-men: Doughty: 27 Shattenkirk: 43 Fowler: 40 Subban: 38 Carlson: 37 McBain: 30 Myers: 40 Del Zotto: 37 Karlsson: 26 (in 60) Hunwick: 27 (in 53) Goligoski: 20 (in 45) Bogosian: 19 (in 47) Enstrom: 38 Gilbert: 33 E. Johnson: 33 (in 69)

One thing to note is that Schultz is an old rookie, 22 yrs of age. A lot of the better known guys above were 18,19,20 in their rookie seasons. McBain, Hunwick, Goligoski, Enstrom, and Gilbert (23) were his age as rookies. I don't think it's too optimistic to say that Schultz might have more offensive skill than those players (based on AHL performance). He's basically the skill level of the better known names on that list, combined with the age of the lesser known names on that list. That combination, I predict, is going to lead to a pace that will beat all of the above mentioned names.

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#33 Walter Sobchak
January 13 2013, 11:17PM
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Jeff wrote:

Players like OEL, Hedman, Pietrangelo, or Doughty are untouchable now.

Adam Larsson may turn into 1 of those players however he is not close yet, this is the type of player Oilers should take a shot with , NJ needs wingers and Oilers have some young potential superstars.

If Oilers just want to get better the trade does not make a lot of sense, but if they are thinking about competing for the Stanley Cup in the next couple of years this makes sense to me.

They could also trade for a chance at Seth Jones. But that seems unlikely.

Getting rid of ANY of the prized kids is a backwards move! you should bang your head on a wood table till you black out for suggesting the Oilers give away proven players for a prospect who may or may not turn into a 1st pairing defensemen!

Larsson = Klefbom until otherwise proven.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FeVMvkNm4Fw

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#34 Mitch
January 13 2013, 11:22PM
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@Brownlee

I see Gagner as a 3rd line centre not a second but there is a time and a place for everything and when Horcoff gets bought out this will force another step forward for the team. If Horcoff doesn't get bought out I would be stunned unless he was to suffer a major injury.

If Whitney is healthy this will also be a positive, but will he want to stick around or do the oilers look at a trade upgrade, there is no UFA deal available for highend dmen. Is Dubnyk the answer and if not how injured is Khabby? Or might Luongo make sense and I do feel there is a fit with Luongo. Can Hemsky stay healthy and has Taylor Hall learnt not to be reckless. Also let Yakupov be a young kid.

Let the games begin it will be interesting to watch this unfold. It is hockey on the ice and not in a board room or infront of a city council, any fan will enjoy this team.

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#35 VK63
January 13 2013, 11:44PM
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One thing that stood out for me at the shinny game.

Any organization that wants to repair a public image but includes Dan Tencer in those efforts is barking up a dead dogs a**. I mean..... seriously?

Other than that.... all good, had fun... flask of good single malt stowed in an ice fishing approved manner helped proceedings along, had a few laughs and as an added bonus did not have to endure the gushing man crush love that is a Patriots broadcast.

So for me. I wasnt looking for any particular value from the afternoon. Any excuse at all to get out of the house was just fine. So..... thanks Oilers!

As for Tencer..... Dear Oilers: give your freaking heads a shake.

And oh yah.... I think @shorcov may be correct on Petrell. Thats one axe murderer looking piece of foreign cabbage that kid.

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#36 Rocket
January 14 2013, 02:44AM
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@VK63

"flask of good single malt stowed in an ice fishing approved manner "

Way to be! I wish I had that kind of optimistic faith in the Oilers organisation. Anyway I'm glad you had fun & you are spot on about Tencer.

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#37 cableguy - 2nd Tier Fan
January 14 2013, 06:22AM
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when i first caught word that hall and eberle were on twitter planning this little shinny game, i thought to myself "self, what a great way to get the fans involved. letting them come down and play shinny with a couple oilers is a great start to making up for the lockout"

then, i saw the corporate spin machine involved and went back to being grumpy.

do we really need to be fed quote after quote after quote from the media people connected to the team about how great the fans are blah blah blah blah?

how about this, mr.patrick laforge. how about instead of trying to get down on both knees and kissing the assess of the worlds greatest fans, how about you actually step outside the box and do something tangible that makes the people feel like the team actually cares? i know, crazy concept. a 1 off chance to watch the oilers skate outside? whoppidy dooooo.

how about having a group of kids playing shinny with the oilers? random draw for 20 season tickets holders to step on the ice with the team? committing to not bending the fans over on playoff ticket prices when/if the team finally makes it?

i am all for trying to reconnect with the fans. just turn off the corporate spin BS and actually make an effort.... rather then having everyone pumping out quotes about the great effort you are making...

/rant

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#38 dessert1111
January 14 2013, 07:17AM
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Interesting that Hartikainen was with Smyth and Horcoff. I imagined Paajarvi would have that spot and Hartikainen was a better fit on the fourth line.

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#40 Truth
January 14 2013, 08:06AM
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I would be satisfied if they (Rexall) sold beer at cost for the entire length of the new CBA.

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#41 Truth
January 14 2013, 08:17AM
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Was anyone at the shinny game? I saw a few tweeted pictures where it appeared Peckham was sitting on the bench without skates on or anything. I've been very suspicious of him since leaving the ECHL after a game or two, and it recently came out that he it "just wasn't for him" down there so he went back to Ontario and has just sat there waiting for months. I remember Gregor's article about Peckham finally fully committing and being in the best shape of his life prior to his ECHL stint. My prediction is he jumped back on the cheeseburger wagon and will be passed by Teubert at the halfway point this season.

I'm also guessing they call Danis up on Sunday to meet the team in Van. Why bring him to training camp and hamper OKC's chances in the meantime, plus he has been practicing with the best Oilers all season anyway.

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#42 Jeff
January 14 2013, 09:44AM
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You need a two way center on the top 2 lines without that no Stanley Cup.

That is why Gagner future as an Oiler is limited.

Give him soft minutes and trade him.

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#43 Dog
January 14 2013, 10:10AM
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Who wins the Cup 2013?

Pitt Buff Bost NYR

STL LA Van

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#44 A-Mc
January 14 2013, 10:26AM
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I Understand that the Shinny game was a PR stunt, I get it. They need to do more, and they need to do it EVERY year (I agree with Wanye's Twitter rants).

That being said, When my 3 year old son got a shirt and puck from Smid at the shinny game yesterday, He totally lit up. (Actually i don't think he could care less about the shirt, but a Puck!? HOLY SMOKES!). His puck is much better than Daddy's boring all-black pucks, and he hasn't missed an opportunity to remind me of such.

Pucks are a dime a dozen, but to him it was the coolest thing ever. He hasn't let go of that puck since we left the event and i'm sure when we're on our back yard rink this evening he's not going to let it touch my stick.

Us adults can gripe all we want as we see through the PR bs, but events like Sunday afternoon are for the kids IMO, and with that in mind i think it was a success.

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#45 tileguy
January 14 2013, 10:34AM
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"Roid"

These are very credible lines and need serious discusion. A lines of Ales, Sam and Yak will get pounded and our 5 mil man lost (or first pick)

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#46 Spydyr
January 14 2013, 11:01AM
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If the NHL was serious about making to up to the fans they would make Centre-Ice free for the entire year.

It would be a bone to the sponsor’s .Getting the game out there. Fans could watch a good game most nights. It is win win. Not like many people are lining up to pay for Centre Ice on the shortened season.

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#47 David S
January 14 2013, 11:13AM
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A-Mc wrote:

I Understand that the Shinny game was a PR stunt, I get it. They need to do more, and they need to do it EVERY year (I agree with Wanye's Twitter rants).

That being said, When my 3 year old son got a shirt and puck from Smid at the shinny game yesterday, He totally lit up. (Actually i don't think he could care less about the shirt, but a Puck!? HOLY SMOKES!). His puck is much better than Daddy's boring all-black pucks, and he hasn't missed an opportunity to remind me of such.

Pucks are a dime a dozen, but to him it was the coolest thing ever. He hasn't let go of that puck since we left the event and i'm sure when we're on our back yard rink this evening he's not going to let it touch my stick.

Us adults can gripe all we want as we see through the PR bs, but events like Sunday afternoon are for the kids IMO, and with that in mind i think it was a success.

This is a very perceptive comment.

Most people commenting on blogs and forums are hardcores. Most people going to games are just there to have fun with their kids/wife/buds. It was for them that this and other such events are done. I'm pretty sure the team knows it's done HUGE damage to their hardcore fan group and there's not much they can do to make amends on that front.

But the casual, family-oriented fan is the group they can touch and the fan they're concentrated on. It's why you don't see scantily clad "ice girls" in Edmonton. It's also why you still see Mark Scholtz doing cheesy promos at the games.

Although I heartily agree with Wanye on this one too.

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#48 Hammers
January 14 2013, 02:00PM
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Your dead right on Hemsky and that's why Gags Hemsky & Hall should be the first line especially on the road . RNH doesn't get it done yet on the road and that's why I would start Smyth with RNH & Ebs . That leaves Horc with Yak and either Magnus (my choice) or Hartski. Your 4th line is then Ralph's choice . RNH Should be getting all the soft minutes plus PP time Everyone is to gung ho on RNH Hall & Ebs . Look at Barons they did great at home and so so on road . This is the NHL guys.

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#49 Rama Lama
January 14 2013, 02:22PM
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Great reading on all the takes regarding line combinations.......and how this will all play out.

I think Krueger will be moving guys around until he finds some natural chemistry. RNH on the first line may not last long as those three ( Hall, Ebs, RNH) are all premier players that like to carry the puck. Looking back to the most famous trio of Gretzky, Kurri, and Tikkanen......one was the playmaker, one was the puck retriever, and one was a pure shooter. True they had skill that went beyond thier roles, but their speciality made the line excel.

Krueger will have to find similar chemistry with his top six, or at least try and develop appropriate skills based on line make up.

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#50 The Soup Fascist
January 14 2013, 05:09PM
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Hammers wrote:

Your dead right on Hemsky and that's why Gags Hemsky & Hall should be the first line especially on the road . RNH doesn't get it done yet on the road and that's why I would start Smyth with RNH & Ebs . That leaves Horc with Yak and either Magnus (my choice) or Hartski. Your 4th line is then Ralph's choice . RNH Should be getting all the soft minutes plus PP time Everyone is to gung ho on RNH Hall & Ebs . Look at Barons they did great at home and so so on road . This is the NHL guys.

But you don't get to choose which line draws the other team's toughs - especially on the road.

Just because you write Hemsky-Gags-Hall on the top of the chalkboard, does not automatically obligate the opposing coach to put his top D pairing and / or best defensive forward line against them. I am guessing they still key on the RNH-Ebs pairing all day long.

So instead of a speedy Hall, who can maybe open up some ice for those two with his wheels, you have Smytty four strides behind the play. I love Smytty, but his days as a top 6 guy are well past him.

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